This past weekend, the RTS MAC Class of 2010 (a.k.a. Mike’s classmates) threw a huge birthday bash for one of our own. Olivia (whose birthday was actually not this past weekend) loves water parks and water rides, and wanted everyone to experience the joy and thrill of water-related amusement without also having to pay the 17 quabillion dollars it would take to host everyone at Sea World. So her wise and loving husband did what any wise and loving husband would do in such circumstances–he rented a 25-foot long inflatable waterslide! πŸ™‚ Seriously, when we first heard about it we thought, “Boy that’ll be fun,” but when we actually arrived on site we just couldn’t believe our eyes. There it was–a towering 15-foot tall blue plastic behemoth, rumbling with activity as people clambered up the ladder on one side and then slid (or in some cases, bounced) down the other side, screaming as they went. Jen decided that she was content to sit back and relax and enjoy the easy life, whereas I (Mike) made a bee-line for the slide and went straight on down, headfirst. What a rush! Next, I tried going headfirst and upside down–whoooohooooooo!!! Yeah, baby, that was awesome! I had only been there for 5 minutes and already it was the most exciting birthday party EVER!!!

Waterslide madness
Mike having the time of his life while other eager sliders line up for their turn

We came up with all kinds of games to play on the slide. The first challenge (at least for some) was to slide all the way into the little pool at the end of the slide. This got really easy after a while, partially because peoples’ technique improved, but also because ol’ Zach went around squirting everyone with ol’ baby oil. The water in the little pool at the end started to get a little funky at this point, but hey, what can you do. The next game we came up with involved trying to catch a football in mid-flight down the slide; a few people were able to do it but I missed every time. And then people got the idea to go down the slide in “trains” of three, four, or even five people at once. Rather than being graceful and smooth, these generally resulted in massive pile-ups (or train wrecks, if you will) at the bottom of the slide; I’m sure they hurt, but they sure made for big laughs and some great pictures! πŸ™‚ Meanwhile, Jen was contentedly chatting away with the non-sliders (and some of the already retired sliders), exchanging pregnancy tips and generally having a genteel, mature, and socially fulfilling time.

Waterslide madness 2
It took Melonie a number of tries until she could get all the way to the end. So close, and yet so far!

Waterslide football
The insane aftermath of one of the biggest trains. Note that Rachael is holding up the football–good catch, Rach!

Jen at the party
Jen looking beautiful and chilling out on the nearby patio. She isn’t really “showing” much yet, but we’re eagerly expecting to see some belly growth any week now! Come on, tummy! πŸ™‚

The waterslide festivities continued well into the night. After dinner, we played a series of timed relay games that had us dashing up the oily, bouncy inflatable ladder and then throwing ourselves down the slide with reckless abandon in a frenzied attempt to beat our rivals. The first game was normal enough (teams took turns and tried to get the best overall time), but then someone came up with the idea of a simultaneous relay race, which meant two people scrambling up the slide at the same time! And to make matters worse, Olivia (the birthday girl) claimed vehemently that we needed batons, and proudly produced two large cream-colored sausages that she insisted we use. Everyone was grossed out (the sausages were kind of mushy and smelled really nasty), but in the end Olivia got her way, and so we started the first ever MAC Waterslide Sausage-Baton Timed Relay Raceβ„’. When it was my turn to go, I held my hand out to receive the sausage from my teammate, and when it hit my hand, I realized that half of it had broken off somewhere down the line. Okay, that was gross, but I had no time to sit there and think about it, and so I dashed off, trying my best to keep the remains of the mutilated wiener intact.

In the end, my team not only won, but we were the only team to complete the race still holding part of our sausage. The sound of victory filled the air, but unfortunately so did the smell of mushy, uncooked chicken sausages . When we questioned the other team about what happened to their wiener, Shane defended his team by claiming (emphatically) that “It disintegrated! It disintegrated!” Now as it turns out, this wasn’t actually true; someone had simply dropped it into the little splashdown pool, but at the time we had no idea. Everyone was completely grossed out by the thought of chunks of partially-cooked chicken sausage all over our already oily slide, and for some it was just too much. A number of sliders threw in the towel right there, while the rest of us started to laugh and joke, calling the white, frothy water in the pool “wiener water.” And if that weren’t bad enough, Olivia went around mischievously sticking wieners down peoples’ backs! Oh the humanity… Meanwhile, Jen was continuing to have a wonderfully relaxing and socially connected time with the more refined and mature crowd. Each one of us thought that the other one was missing out big-time–to each his or her own, I guess! I and a few other people drained the “wiener water” out of the splash pool (discovering the missing wiener in the process), filled it back up, and kept on climbing and sliding, climbing and sliding, until we were all thoroughly exhausted. Whew! What a night!

Olivia the Birthday Girl
Olivia splashing down after a successful night-time slide. Don’t worry, the water in this picture is not wiener water–I wouldn’t do that to you, dear reader.

Big splash
John making a big splash in life. Again, not wiener water, just regular water.

Jen and I were invited to stay the night, so after another few hours of socializing, we pumped up our air mattress, brushed our teeth, and hit the hay. We enjoyed a low-key, leisurely morning with everyone, talking, playing Wii, reading the newspaper, cracking jokes, and eating egg-and-sausage casserole–again, the sausage theme was Olivia’s idea. The whole thing felt like a mini-retreat, and in some ways that’s what it was–the world’s first ever birthday retreat. It was such a great time; both Jen and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. And not only was it a great way to celebrate Olivia, it was also a unique chance to share some unique memories with our friends from the MAC program. Everyone at RTS who has known us as a class (it seems) has commented on how well we all seem to fit together, and while our group can’t claim responsibility for the way we ‘click,’ we certainly do praise God for it. We will be sad when it is time to go, because we have made some awesome friends here! But thankfully, that day is still a long ways off…at least, that’s what I keep on telling myself… πŸ™

Margaritas in the Morning
Lisa making up some fruit-juice margaritas first thing in the morning. Don’t worry, all they had in them was sour mix and fruit juice–we’re not THAT crazy!!!

Blowing bubbles
Last but not least, here’s a picture of Gracen blowing bubbles in the morning sunshine. I just had to include this picture–she is just too cute!!!

Let’s hope that we have lots more opportunities like this to connect as a class while it lasts! What’s next–skydiving? Cave-snorkeling? Or maybe some home-made karaoke madness??? Yeah, baby! Mike’s birthday is just around the corner–stay tuned!!! πŸ™‚

-Mike